Spirit of Thailand

Spirit of Thailand

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Relationships in Thailand part 5

The Art of Extracting money from Western Men

In this section of the series I want to focus on the part that Thai women play in the relationship arena. There is a wide range of behavior and attitude among Thai women.

Especially outside the large cities you find many very conservative and traditional women who will not touch any man with a ten foot pole without the approval of the parents and the blessings of the monks.

At the other extreme you find women who know every trick in the book to extract money out of the “farang” (Thai name for westerners of caucasian origin). Many make a living with their skills. They work in the major tourist centers as bar girls, dancers, girlfriends-for-rent, or prostitutes.

A rather common story in Thailand

Once I met a Canadian man who told me his story. He had met a Thai girl, and  they fell in love, or so he thought. They were inseparable while he was in Thailand.

When he had to return to Canada, he sent her US$700.- every month so that she did not have to work a low paying job. They stayed in touch via phone and email and made plans to move to Canada and marry.

Upon his return to Thailand he was surprised that she insisted on having separate apartments and seemed more evasive. Finally he found out the story from a friend of hers.

She had found a married man who had offered her to be his second wife for US$ 1200.- a month and she accepted. But she did not want to lose the income from the Canadian, and so she played them both.

When her Canadian lover found out what was going on, he left her. I asked him what happened then. He replied that he had already found another girl who loved him very much. When I asked him where he had found her, he told me that they met in a bar.

Oh boy, I thought, some people just don’t learn, and history repeats itself. This is not an isolated story. It is actually an industry in Thailand, especially with women from Isaan, the northeastern part of Thailand, which is the economic backwater of the country.

Good storytelling can pay well

Thai bar girls are known to tell their companions how much they love them, that they are the only ones and that they want to get out of their profession if only they would not depend on the money.

Their mother is sick, the father was laid off, the dog chewed up the mobile phone, the TV was ruined by a flood, the sister needs an urgent operation and the loan sharks are about to foreclose on the home, leaving the poor family without a roof over their head.

The men fall for the stories, and send them money every month. What they don’t know is that their ‘only’ lover has several other ‘only’ lovers who fell for the same story and send her money monthly from their home countries.

She just has to manage that they never show up in Thailand at the same time. These stories are not confined to bar girls, but are in the repertoire of many Thai women who have frequent contact with western men.

More than one husband?

Sometimes the stories may actually be true and the girl has been working the streets as a last resort to support her poor family in the rural area. But it is very difficult for the western man to separate the truth from fiction. One way or the other he is constantly being asked to pay.

Another twist is that sometimes the woman who confesses her love to the westerner, lives with him and proposes to marry him, is already married to a Thai man who is in on the game and benefits from the lucrative income stream. The westerner of course has no clue.

All foreigners are rich, like a walking ATM machine

Once I stopped with my Thai wife at a rural gas station. While  I was waiting outside, the attendant remarked to her how lucky she was to have a wealthy western boyfriend. When my wife told her that not all foreigners are rich, she retorted: “Well, if he does not have money, just get another one!”

As mentioned above, I am talking about one extreme end of the relationship spectrum in Thailand. But since westerners are highly likely to encounter such enterprising women in the tourist centers, it is very useful to be aware of such scenarios in order to prevent potential problems.

Aside from Thai woman/western man relationships, it is quite common that young Thai women, including many university students, actively look for opportunities to be second wives or paid girlfriends in order to finance and upgrade their life styles.

In this modern day and age Thai women are becoming liberated, and taking on an extramarital lover is no longer the exclusive domain of men anymore.

The better educated and well-traveled Thais have more enlightened attitudes, but they are in the minority.

Despite all the excesses there are many good relationships between Thai women and western men. And in regards to the excesses – it takes two to tango, as the saying goes. People have to decide what kind of relationships work for them. What sounds shocking to one, feels perfectly normal to someone else.

Click Here to read the next article in the relationship series

Previous articles in the relationship series:
Relationships in Thailand Part 1
Relationships in Thailand Part 2
Relationships in Thailand Part 3
Relationships in Thailand Part 4


The author, Shama KernThe author, Shama Kern, has been living in Thailand for well over a decade. His wife is Thai and they have created a successful cross cultural relationship. You can reach Shama at shama@shamakern.com

4 thoughts on “Relationships in Thailand part 5”

    • I have asked myself the same question… Part of the answer is that bar girls can be real experts at presenting their story in such a way that men feel compelled to send them money regularly. The second reason is that many men feel that they want to help the bar girl get out of their job, which is basically prostitution. Since they often do not have any other skills, the men try to support them. However in most cases, it does not play out as intended by the men who support them.

  1. “Well, if he does not have money, just get another one!” – example of Thai Kreng Jai? I find this remark highly disrespectful and humiliating, absolutely without a slightest reason.

    • It certainly is disrespectful. “Without slightest reason” – well, the reason is just ignorance, a very limited worldview, and an attitude towards relationships which is based primarily on economic reasons.

      Of course not all Thai women think like that, but there are plenty who do. I am just writing this in order to help foreign men not to see every Thai girl through rose colored glasses and use caution before they plunge into a relationship here in Thailand.


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